Army Physical Fitness Test
All soldiers in the Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve must take the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) regardless of their age. The APFT is a three-event physical performance test used to assess muscular endurance and cardiorespiratory (CR) fitness. It is a simple way to measure a soldier’s ability to effectively move his body by using his major muscle groups and CR system. Performance on the APFT is strongly linked to the soldier’s fitness level and his ability to do fitness-related tasks. An APFT with alternate test events is given to soldiers with permanent profiles and with temporary profiles greater than three months’ duration.
While the APFT testing is an important tool in determining the physical readiness of individual soldiers and units, it should not be the sole basis for the unit’s physical fitness training. Commanders at every level must ensure that fitness training is designed to develop physical abilities in a balanced way, not just to help soldiers do well on the APFT.
Commanders should use their unit’s APFT results to evaluate its physical fitness level. APFT results may indicate a need to modify the fitness programs to attain higher fitness levels. However, mission-essential tasks, not the APFT, should drive physical training.
Additional physical performance tests and standards which serve as prerequisites for Airborne/Ranger/Special Forces/SCUBA qualification are provided in DA Pam 351-4.
Methods of Evaluation
Commanders are responsible for ensuring that their soldiers are physically fit (AR 350- 15). There are several ways they can assess fitness including the following
• Testing. This is an efficient way to evaluate both the individual’s and the unit’s physical performance levels.
• Inspection. This evaluates training procedures and indicates the soundness of the unit’s physical fitness program.
• Observation. This is an ongoing way to review training but is not as reliable as testing as an indicator of the unit’s level of fitness.
• Medical examination. This detects individual disabilities, health-related problems, and physical problems.
Over-Forty Cardiovascular Screening Program
The Army’s over-40 cardiovascular screening program (CVSP) does the following:
• Identifies soldiers with a risk of coronary heart disease.
• Provides guidelines for safe, regular CR exercise.
•Gives advice and help in controlling heart-disease risk factors.
• Uses treadmill testing only for high risk soldiers who need it.
All soldiers, both active and reserve component, must take the APFT for record regardless of age unless prohibited by a medical profile. For soldiers who reached age 40 on or after 1 January 1989, there is no requirement for clearance in the cardiovascular screening program before taking a record APFT. Soldiers who reached age 40 before 1 January 1989 must be cleared through the cardiovascular screening program before taking a record APFT. Prior to their CVSP evaluation, however, they may still take part in physical training to include diagnostic APFTs unless profiled or contraindications to exercise
exist. All soldiers must undergo periodic physical examinations in accordance with AR 40-501 and NGR 40- 501. These include screening for cardiovascular risk factors.
As stated, APFT events assess muscular endurance and CR fitness. The lowest passing APFT standards reflect the minimum acceptable fitness level for all soldiers, regardless of MOS or component. When applied to a command, APFT results show a unit’s overall level of physical fitness. However, they are not all-inclusive, overall measures of physical-combat readiness. To assess this, other physical capabilities must be measured. The APFT does, however, give a commander a sound measurement of the general fitness level of his unit.
Service schools, agencies, and units may set performance goals which are above the minimum APFT standards in accordance with their missions (AR 350- 15). Individual soldiers are also encouraged to set for themselves a series of successively higher APFT performance goals. They should always strive to improve themselves physically and never be content with meeting minimum standards. Competition on the APFT among soldiers or units can also be used to motivate them to improve their fitness levels.
Testing is not a substitute for a regular, balanced exercise program. Diagnostic testing is important in monitoring training progress but, when done too often, may decrease motivation and waste training time.
The test period is defined as the period of time which elapses from starting to finishing the three events. It must not take more than two hours. Soldiers must do all three events in the same test period.